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 Lilian Neilson  (1938 - 1998)

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Lived/Active: United Kingdom      Known for: painting

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Ad Code: 4
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from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from McTear's:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Lil Neilson studied at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art from 1956-60, including a summer school at Hospitalfield House, Arbroath.  She completed a post-diploma year tutored by Hugh Crawford and Alberto Morroco in 1960-61 and was awarded a traveling scholarship to France and Italy in 1961-62.

On her return she joined Joan Eardley in Catterline: they had become friends in 1960 at Hospitalfield House and Eardley invited Lil to paint in the studio she and Annette Stephen shared in Catterline.  Like many other painters and visitors, Lil became enthralled with the place.  At this time Lil also worked backstage with Reet Guenigault in theaters including the Traverse in Edinburgh and also in England, returning to Catterline to nurse Eardley when her illness was diagnosed in the new year of 1963.  Reet joined them three months later to take over to give Lil a rest, and after Eardley`s death in August of that year Lil bought No 2 South Side, Catterline, to make her home in one half and studio at the other end. 

Some pictures of this period show Catterline views which Eardley famously painted, especially with the great round moons low in the summer sky.  Neilson`s foregrounds are less detailed and the viewer`s eyes are led upwards towards the sky.  Lil continued to work in theaters until 1969, when she returned to Catterline to try to work through the Eardley influences which had been made more than a bitter cup.  She felt that she must paint that problem out in Catterline.  She spent some time in Norfolk with Gaydon Phillips, but not many paintings of Norfolk exist and she returned to paint in Catterline regularly over the next nine years.  She moved permanently to Catterline in 1986 and, once there, Joyce Laing`s Pittenweem gallery exhibited some of Lil`s work which showed new directions.

In 1989, at 369 Gallery, Edinburgh, an exhibition shared with Annette Stephen showed a two-room retrospective of Lil`s work.  Her last show was `Certain Days and Other Seasons` (1997) at both Seagate and Aberdeen Art Galleries.  Lil pronounced this to be "the end of my life`s work", prophetically as it turned out, for by August 1997 it became apparent that this private and reticent woman had been working under duress for the past two years as the extent of her disease was discovered.  Lil`s good friends and neighbors loved and nursed her, enabling her to be in her beloved Catterline until she needed the services of Roxburgh House.

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